I Samuel 7 & 8

Standard

In just over one hundred years after the ministry of Jesus, the Gentile Christians had already begun to view themselves as the “true Israelitic race.” This is profoundly dangerous thinking. Please think through this with me. If the Church is “the true Israelitic race,” then are the Jews a false Israelitic race? Or are they simply no race at all? If the Jews are no longer Israel, then who are they? Once any group has been stripped of their identity and existence in theory, it is only a matter of time before someone will seek to strip them of their very existence literally. As tragic as it is, for the next two thousand years the belief that the Gentile-majority Christian Church is the new or true Israel has dominated the thinking of so much of the Church, even to this present day. The ramifications of the doctrine of supersessionism has for more than eighteen hundred years consistently produced the worst form of hatred and abuse imaginable. – Joel Richardson, When A Jew Rules the World: What the Bible Really Says About Israel in the Plan of God

I have to admit that I’m always engaged by an author or a person who says, “Think through this with me…” Maybe I’m a nerd or something… But I like the thought of thinking things through together…

So, I’m continuing where I left off yesterday in the Text… The Israelites demand a king… Oh boy…

And the men of Kiriath-jearim came and took up the ark of the LORD and brought it to the house of Abinadab on the hill. And they consecrated his son Eleazar to have charge of the ark of the LORD.  From the day that the ark was lodge at Kiriath-jearim, a long time passed, some twenty years, and all the house of Israel lamented after the LORD (I Sam 7:1-2 ESV).

It is believed that the Ark was neglected during this time and not at all respected among the people of Israel. Kirjath-jearim was about eight miles northeast of Beth-shemesh, and the Ark would remain in this location approximately twenty years, while Israel was more or less under the yoke of the Philistines. The Ark would also remain here during the forty-year reign of Saul.  And David would reign approximately ten years before the Ark would be brought to Jerusalem.

When the Ark was finally found by David, some seventy years after it was lodged at Kiriath-jearim, it was standing alone out in a field next to the woods, apparently discarded. The Psalm of David says, “Lo, we heard of it at Ephratah; we found it in the fields of the wood” (Ps 132:6).

And Samuel said to all the house of Israel, “If you are returning to the LORD with all your heart, then put away the foreign gods and the Ashtaroth from among you and direct your heart to the LORD and serve him only, and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistine.” So the people of Israel put away the Baals and the Ashtaroth, and they served the LORD only (I Sam 7:3-4 ESV).

Samuel proclaims the Message of Repentance, arousing the Israelites to a consciousness of their sinful condition before God and setting forth the Lamb of God as the Divine Way of pardon and righteousness. He appeals to their hearts, that their hearts might reject the false gods and spiritualties, and no longer compromise with evil.  The bane of Israel was serving the LORD as well as idols, something the Apostle Paul would refer to as “another Jesus, another spirit, and another gospel” (II Cor 11:4).

The LORD would deliver Israel from the hand of the Philistines—but only on His Terms. The idols had to be put away.  The Baals and Ashtarosh were an affront to the Glory of Jehovah God, and He would not bless the Israelites as long as they compromised with pagan spiritualties.  As long as they were bound by pagan worship, they would remain bound by the Philistines.

Then Samuel said, “Gather all Israel at Mizpah, and I will pray to the LORD for you.” So they gathered at Mizpah and drew water and poured it out before the LORD and fasted on that day and said there, “We have sinned against the LORD.”  And Samuel judged the people of Israel at Mizpah.  Now when the Philistines heard that the people of Israel had gathered at Mizpah, the lords of the Philistines went up against Israel.  And when the people of Israel heard of it, they were afraid of the Philistines (I Sam 7:5-8 ESV).

Israel is about to see a Move of God—the first one seen in a long, long time! The drawing of water and pouring it out before the LORD was a Type of Christ pouring out His All on the Cross!  That was the Greatest Move of God of all, something the Israelites would only see in shadow.

So Samuel took a nursing lamb and offered it as a whole burnt offering to the LORD. And Samuel cried out to the LORD for Israel, and the LORD answered him.  As Samuel was offering up the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to attack Israel.  But the LORD thundered with a mighty sound that day against the Philistines and threw them into confusion, and they were defeated before Israel.  And the men of Israel went out from Mizpah and pursued the Philistines and struck them, as far as below Beth-car (I Sam 7:9-11 ESV).

Samuel was the strong spiritual leader that the Israelites needed. He led according to the Word of God.  He was a Levite and could offer the Burnt Offering—which was, again, a Type of Christ, but he could not enter the Tabernacle since he wasn’t a son of Aaron.  The fact was, however, that the Tabernacle, at this time, was useless as a center of worship because the Throne of God—the Ark—had been removed from it.

Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen and called its name Ebenezer; for he said, “Till now the LORD has helped us.” So the Philistines were subdued and did not again enter the territory of Israel.  And the Hand of the LORD was against the Philistines all the days of Samuel.  That the Philistines had taken from Israel were restored to Israel, from Ekron to Gath, and Israel delivered their territory from the hand of the Philistines.  There was peace also between Israel and the Amorites (I Sam 7:12-14 ESV).

The LORD will always help us when we look to Christ as the Source of our help and the Cross as the Means. Every demonic enemy of our souls can be subdued and we can be restored of what has been taken from us as long as our Faith is in Christ and Him Crucified.  I’ve quoted these verses many times before—but I’m going to again:

For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom. But we preach Christ Crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness.  But to them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the Power of God, and the Wisdom of God (I Cor 1:22-24 KJV).

Samuel judged Israel all the days of his life. And he went on a circuit year by year to Bethel, Gilgal, and Mizpah.  And he judged Israel in all these places.  Then he would return to Ramah, for his home was there, and there also he judged Israel.  And he built there an altar to the LORD (I Sam 7:15-17 ESV).

Samuel was the last Judge of Israel. This was not by the order of God but by the scheme of men.  And the schemes of man never turn out for the best.

When Samuel became old, he made his sons judges over Israel. The name of his firstborn son was Joel, and the name of his second, Abijah; they were judges in Beersheba.  Yet his sons did not walk in his ways but turned aside after gain.  They took bribes and perverted justice (I Sam 8:1-3 ESV).

Though Samuel was a great man, he wasn’t perfect. There is no hint in the Text that he asked the LORD for guidance as it regarded putting his sons in places of authority for which they were not qualified.  The taking of bribes was strictly prohibited in God’s Law:

And you shall take no gift, for the gift blinds the wise, and perverts the words of the righteous (Exodus 23:8 KJV).

Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah and said to him, “Behold, you are old and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now appoint for us a king to judge us like all the nations.”  But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to judge us.” And Samuel prayed to the LORD (I Sam 8:4-6 ESV).

Israel was wrong to demand a king to judge them. They wanted their own ways instead of God’s Ways, and their desire for a king to be like other nations was a work of the flesh and not of the Spirit.  Their demand would bring them great sorrow in the long run.

To the Israelites, a king whom they could see—although he would be only a feeble, foolish, and dying man—was preferred to an unseen, Almighty King—the Eternal Jehovah God. They wished to be like the surrounding nations—forgetting all about the truth that their glory and happiness consisted only in being unlike these nations.

And the LORD said to Samuel, “Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them. According to all the deeds that they have done, from the day I brought them up out of Egypt even to this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are also doing to you.  Now then, obey their voice; only you shall solemnly warn them and show them the ways of the king who shall reign over them” (I Sam 8:7-9 ESV).

Sometimes when it is thought that a particular person is rejected, in reality is it is God Who has been rejected. And to reject God is the most serious thing that a person can do.

So Samuel told all the words of the LORD to the people who were asking for a king from him. He said, “These will be the ways of the king who will reign over you; he will take your sons and appoint them to his chariots and to be his horsemen and to run before his chariots.  And he will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and some to plow his ground and to reap his harvest, and to make his implements of war and the equipment of his chariots.  He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers.  He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive orchards and give them to his servants (I Sam 8:10-15 ESV).

Jehovah God, in His tender love for His People, plainly told them the treatment they would receive from the king of their own choice. Six times the fact is repeated, “he will take,” referring to this particular king.

He will take your male servants and female servants and the best of your young men and your donkeys, and put them to his work. He will take the tenth of your flocks, and you shall be his slaves.  And in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves, but the LORD will not answer you in that day” (I Sam 8:16-17 ESV).

The king of their choice—which would, of course, be King Saul, would only bring troubles and difficulties to the people of Israel.

But the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel. And they said, “No!  But there shall be a king over us, that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles (I Sam 8:18-20 ESV). 

God permitted self-will to have its own way. His first king was to be David, but the Israelites wanted a king of their own choosing right then and there.

George Williams writes: “Just as impoverishment and servitude resulted as predicted by Samuel from Israel’s self-willed establishment of a human government, so spiritual poverty and loss of liberty follow in the Christian life when there is subjection to the commandments and doctrines of men, instead of to the authority of the Word of God.”

And when Samuel had heard all the words of the people, he repeated them in the ears of the LORD. And the LORD said to Samuel, “Obey their voice and make them a king.”  Samuel then said to the men of Israel, “Go every man to his city” (I Sam 8:21-22 ESV).

The end results of Israel going its own way would be just as the LORD had, through Samuel, warned them it would be—destructive.

So, this blog has gotten long again… I appreciate anyone who has read on through… There’s so much in these narratives that touches me—and not just because of childhood memories of these stories… There’s Powerful Truth in the Old Testament as well as the New. It is the very Word of God—in our own hands!

So, I’m ending today with an oldie… Probably familiar if you grew up Pentecostal in the nineties—especially AG Pentecostal… LOL

Glory, glory, hallelujah! Since I laid my burdens down!  Glory, glory, hallelujah!  Since I laid my burdens down!

My heart was heavy, ‘til I found Jesus! My heart was heavy, ‘til I met Him!  My heart was heavy, ‘til I found Jesus!  I’ll never be the same again!

Sing—glory, glory, hallelujah! Since I laid my burdens down!  Glory, glory, hallelujah!  Since I laid my burdens down!